Sociology Index

Romani Customs and Traditions

The Roma people originally migrated to Europe from India. Romany or Romanis are of of Indo-Aryan origin who arrived in Europe in the 14th century. They had the ability to adjust to outside groups and in some places the Romanis were dominant enough to assimilate outsiders. Over one million Romani people live in the United States, and they, along with any other culture or tradition, are treated as members of American family. The Roma people came through the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), arriving in the Balkan Peninsula in the 1300s. The Romanis lost their discrete identity in some places. For Roma, death is a senseless, unnatural occurrence that should anger those who die. They are also worried about the possible revenge the dead, or muló, might seek against those who remain in the world of the living.

Romany chal is a male Gypsy. Romany chi or Romany chai, is a Gypsy girl. Romany rye is a man who associates with Gypsies but is not a Gypsy. Romani Customs and Traditions adapt to the requirements of their surroundings but they fear that over time integration could lead to assimilation, and the eventual disappearance of Romaniya. In Romani tradition, public mourning, crying, and even wailing, will accompany the funeral procession. Loved ones will typically wear white to represent purity and/or red representing vitality.

Romanis had a composite population from the very beginning, with different ethnic groups brought together during their initial great migration from India. In Romani culture, as in India, a woman is considered "un-pure" or marime because of her menstrual cycle. Romany population and the Romani people came into being outside of India, but the various ethnic elements began inside India. Over one million Romani people are living in the United States.

Nomadic Roma traditionally move the death bed in front of the tent or caravan, usually under an improvised canopy. A small band is sometimes hired to play marches, going ahead of the coffin. This band is followed by the widow or widower, other mourning relatives and a priest. As this procession enters the cemetery, the sobbing of the mourners increases as is the practice in many parts of India.

The Romani are widely known in the English-speaking world by the name "Gypsies", because these people were thought to have come from Egypt, and a term considered to be mildly derogatory.

The Romani have a rich musical heritage. Their music has influenced jazz, bolero, flamenco music, hip hop, and many classical composers including Franz Liszt. Romany dance is also well known for improvization and self-expression, and there have been well known Romany flamenco dancers.